a life winking out


Addendum, November 11, 2011.

I am tempted to take down this post. It adds nothing to the debate and drives the blog into a wall. The bottom line for me comes down to the indefensible belief that the state does not have the right to take a life. Beyond that belief are facts of race, economic inequality, DNA evidence leading to acquittals for inmates condemned to death, horror of particular methods of execution. If the someone from the family of the victim has the certainty and the guts, the fortitude to aim the gun and pull the trigger – well, that’s a different story. They would probably kill the wrong person from time to time too, though.


What to say about a death penalty vigil, an execution watch? Should the state have the right to take a life? Karl Eugene Chamberlain was killed today in a Texas prison.

Karl grew up in the town we now call home. Naomi knows his mom, Mui’na Arthur, from activist circles. He was 37 years old. He confessed to raping and killing Felicia Prechtl, was sentenced 17 years ago and has been on Death Row since. He spent 10 years in isolation.

For the pro-death penalty point of view, and a chilling account of the crime, go here. I am sorry to say I could find very little written about the victim, Felicia Prechtl. The family’s rage and bitterness is understandable.

The problem I have with the death penalty is that it is state-sponsored, old testament style murder, a barbaric practice which serves no end except vengeance, not even deterrence. And sometimes the person who is put to death is not the person who walked into the prison. People change.

From accounts I have from people who have known him through these years this seems to have been the case with Karl.

These were some of his last words: “We are here to honor the life of Felicia Prechtl, a woman I didn’t even know, and celebrate my death. I am so terribly sorry. I wish I could die more than once.”


For Karl’s letters, bio, and his pictures and paintings visit who’s who on death row and look for Karl Chamberlain’s name on the memory pages in the left hand column.

I am tempted to take down this post. It adds nothing to the debate and drives the blog into a wall.

This entry was posted in "Blindness", american gothic, bleak, character studies, death penalty, Felicia Prechtl, fucking texas, hallowed ground, karl chamberlain, mu'ina arthur, painting, poetry, quesrtionable rights of the state, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to a life winking out

  1. Paul Squires says:

    The death penalty is an archaic obscenity and you are right to express your opinion.


  2. damyantig says:

    I wish I knew what the right thing to do is. ten years of solitary confinement sounds scarier than death. To me, at least.


  3. johemmant says:

    I detest the death penalty, detest it, and am so glad it is not in place in this country.


  4. johemmant says:

    Oh my god, I just clicked that ‘here’ button and wish I hadn’t. Imprisonment for life, if you take a life, you forfeit your freedom.


  5. bonnieluria says:

    Rick- it’s a barbaric contradiction to be able, with justification, to kill someone for killing someone. Is that not insane?
    These are the same law providers that consider abortion illegal and immoral. The hypocrisy is numbing.
    And if that person was erroneously convicted?

    With the impending arrival of a baby, this is a topic that must be very close to your heart.
    If a post like this belongs anywhere, it does HERE.

    You bring very thought provoking, sensitive issues to light on this blog and in turn, reach a lot of people.

    To life!


  6. marlowe44 says:

    The miasma of emotion that accompanies this situation are mind numbing. I am sure that the parents and loved ones of Felicia Prechtl would have been prepared to strangle Karl Chamberlain with their own hands. As a life-long liberal, I can agree that an eye for an eye is primal, barbaric, frightening, archaic, and probably without cosmic merit. Yet, if Felicia had been my daughter, my little princess, and had been so senselessly taken from me–I would have cursed God, and have lived with Anger like a tiger on a lease for the rest of my days. The whole Prison system is a yoke around society’s neck. There are never enough cells for the gang bangers, dope dealers, and murderers within huge urban areas. The costs to the tax payers is astronomical. Karl was kept alive in prison for 17 years. The cost of that in just raw dollars is off the chart. Justice is blind. We know that because the bitch wears a blindfold, doesn’t she? So the issue of the death penalty is a complex one, like abortion, and death with dignity. As human beings we get caught up in our moral morass, our complicated emotions, and our bruised sensitivities. So on the one hand I applaud your heart-felt regrets that Karl was executed, but his last words, those thoughts of his just as he made his transition, eased the karma of his crime…listen to the man/celebrate my death. I am so terribly sorry. I wish I could die more than once./ Karl was ready to cross over, ready to die rather than face his conscience and incarceration ad infinitum. You were not ready for his death, but he was. Honor it, without condoning the death penalty. Again, I applaud your sensitivity to this issue, but I also see the need for it; for Karl and for us. Yes, it is a complex issue, and thank you for sirring up the coals.



  7. rick mobbs says:

    Paul, archaic obscenity says it for me.

    Danyantig, 10 years in solitary and you would have to face the fact that you are a poet. You may weave an dodge out here, and lose yourself in prose and reportage, but there you would write about the important stuff. That said, you know as well as I that poetry is what brings prose to life.

    Jo, I know.

    Marlow44, your comment spurs me to reply. If the family were allowed to strangle the perpetrator that would be one thing. If they are willing to cast the first stone then so be it. But it isn’t the family, it is the faceless, anonymous and cowardly state, with all its self-justification, hypocrisy, and hubris.

    As to the expense of incaration, the Pew Center on the States new study reveals that “…Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars…”

    We have 2, 300,000 people behind bars in this country. Wouldn’t it would be better those behind bars for alcohol or drug related crime were rehabilitated, rather than incarcerated? If the problem was treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one? Wouldn’t it be better for all of us if we spent the money on education, health care, cleaning up the environment, bringing our people forward? Instead we militarize, we kill, we do not export peace because we can not export what we do not have.

    The private prison industry is a complex of businesses traded on Wall Street. For every one of their cells prison filled they make money. The private prison industry and the prison guards associations are the largest lobby against sentencing reform and corrections reform. They are the largest lobby for Three Strikes And You Are Out. I wonder why? Follow the money.

    And lastly, I can watch Karl die. That comes to all of us and the when and how in the big picture doesn’t so much really matter.

    You probably know this one already but it bears repeating, There is a koan that goes something like this: A disciple brings the news that the master’s son has died, and the master breaks down and weeps. The disciple says, “But master, you teach us that death is just an illusion.”

    The master answers, “Yes, that is true. But some illusions are more real than others.”

    We all have to stand for the things we perceive to be truths and the truth here for me is the state has no business dealing death. Here, overseas, anywhere. The hypocrisy of the United States of America is breathtaking.


  8. Makes my heart hurt. There’s no good to killing. I try to make it personal, think, what would I want if one of my loved ones were maimed and murdered? But another killing doesn’t bring back one’s lost love.

    I heard a woman speak once who was part of a group of parents who had lost children to murder. They were against the death penalty because she said it deprived the murderer a chance to feel remorse for his or her crime. A chance for redemption. Even if you don’t believe in God, there’s an inner redemption, I think.

    A tough issue to face, great post.


  9. rick mobbs says:


    thanks for the feedback and support. glad to know you are out there making those beautiful paintings and speaking your mind.

    cristine, and marlowe44,

    Here is a story a friend of mine, George G, from Boston AA. Years ago George sponsored a young man. Tried to help him but he slipped away. (“took drunk”, and disappeared)

    A few years later the young man broke into a house in Dorchester Mass and killed the 80 year old woman who lived there. He was caught and imprisoned. (He did not know at the time that the woman was George’s mother.)

    At the funeral service for his mom, George publicly put aside his desire for vengeance and forgave the murderer and stated his wish and intention to move on.

    Which he did. However, he also carried with him one of those spring-operated hand exercisers and used it, so that, were he ever given the opportunity, he could kill the son of a bitch with his bare hands.


  10. damyantig says:

    Er….Rick, totally out of context with the post as your reply to my comment was, let me reply out-of-context as well lols….since you are determined to make a poet out of me, head over to my blog, and you will see another of those things that wont leave me alone:)…

    I guess if I am left in solitary confinement, I would go very crazy very soon:))


  11. marlowe44 says:


    Your passion, your clear-headedness about the hypocracy of a privately owned prison system that deters and circumnavigates prison reform, your accurate data, your senstive and liberal views–all gather together in one whirling windstorm of your personal clarity. Some of these issues are just not easily defined. You are certainly right that each of us has to follow our own heart dictates in this, and all matters.

    I really responded to your story about friend, George. Cosmically, the fact that the very young man he endeavored to sponsor ended up slaying his mother, is some nasty sychronicity. He was experiencing cognitive and emotion dissadence as he tried to balance his anger and regret with his intellectual need to “do and say the right thing”. Pointing up again what a complex issue incarceration is. I agree 200% that a solid third of the folks in prisons could be dealt with elsewhere, in more ppsitive ways.

    Solitary confinement would create poets, and poetry; no doubt. Many of us put ourselves into solitary places for short periods to tickle the Muses, to clear the cobwebs, to focus. By the way, not only can poetry lead to prose, but as I have demonstrated to you with your own prose–prose can lead to poetry. It is cyclic and circular, one all-connected wholeness. Add to that music and painting and sculpting and dancing and singing–and there it is!



  12. rick mobbs says:

    Another nice piece of work, damyantig. Check out her blogs, people. Hey, where does your name come from?

    Marlowe44, your name isn’t “clickable” in the comment above. I wonder why? People need to be able to find you.


  13. damyantig says:

    Um, my real name is Damyanti, which means “Beautiful”. Damyanti is also one of the seven suttees in Hindu Mythology. (Suttee is a woman who devotes herself to her husband in heart, mind, soul, words, thoughts and actions.) The name has a beautiful legend attached to it, you can google “Damyanti” or “Damayanti” to read that.

    Thanks for promoting my blog, big guy:)

    Can we have an update on the baby situation?:) I wish you and your entire family well.


  14. rick mobbs says:

    Baby situation is… due date is june 21… I think she may come with the full moon on the 18th, but we’ll see. Everybody here happy, well, cheerful. Naomi is getting rounder and rounder, and the baby is riding a little bit lower… I’ll see about posting some pictures!


  15. annieepoetry says:

    … legalize humanity
    if someone hurt my girl, raped her and kill her, i may go nuts and find the little turd that did it, crack his neck, but I may bury
    her bones and let old age get the bastard. we all die. in a chamber or by an ax, or a fall down the stares or putting our own head in gas stove. it is justice. There was a time when rape was the woman’s or victims fault. at least we over that.

    i like the painting, especially the naval looking spiral in the sky in the lower right hand corner. and the baby’s face. and the flowers in the winged things hands. those are pretty.


  16. Tina Trivett says:

    In 1995 my best friend was killed. She was murdered by a serial killer who killed 8 more women & one child after her. My friend was smashed in the head with a heavy weight while she slept, raped and her body cut into pieces to be scattered over 2 states. They still have not found all of her body. The ones they did find, were covered in bite marks. Her killer sits on death row in Illinois.

    So to me, I’m on the fence. I was very anti-death penalty before this. But now…some days I think he should die, other days I don’t.


  17. Denise says:

    My darling Michael was murdered
    and Bled to death on our kitchen floor. If I had his killer in my hands on that day, I would have killed him I’m sure.
    There are trully evil people out there, who do not care about the death penalty, it doesn’t stop anyone it is not a deterrant. When they take their last breath the loved ones of those who are evil enough to murder are most often bewildered as to why their son/daughter has done such a terrible thing. To top that, even more agony as they watch their child murdered too. I could not face another human being who was about to lose their child/husband and say this is justice. There is no such thing as closure for anyone.
    It is a myth a tag we give to such situations in which we need to justify our actions. I will never recover fully from what happened. I would like his killer to rot in prison oh yes, and never see a family christmas party or feel the
    loved ones arms around them, as I and his mother and the children have been denied. I think of how many times I would like to kick him in his balls everyday and torture him with stories of the outside world. I am denied that because he still roams free outside no arrest has ever been made.
    So no, I feel I have earned my right to say Murder is wrong


  18. rick mobbs says:

    Tina and Denise, I am so sorry for your losses. Thank you for adding your voices. Blessings and peace to both of you and to the memories of your loved ones.


  19. guntoting_godfearer says:

    ok, I’m seeing all these post against the death penalty. All I can say to anti-DP people is, perhaps you are a prozac medicated liberal who wishes to give hugs to convicted killers on death row, but I dont think the family members of the victims will be waiting in line with you. I am absolutely GLAD that MY GOVERNMENT took this guy’s breath away. Lets see, he goes into a girls apartment with a gun, forces anal sex upon her, then shoots her in the head with a dear rifle. Hmm, yeah, what a great guy. Oh, right, he is “different” now. Yeah, but he was a killer/rapist back then and acted upon his barbarian lust. Well, our good ol’ boys in the Texas justice system acted upon their’s. Oh yeah, they gave him a nice dose of justice too -in the form of Sodium thiopental, Pancuronium bromide, and Potassium chloride. Not to spike the ball, but I sure got a kick out of his last statement cut short from the “justice” taking effect. Classic stuff.

    Bottom line, I know that I’ll make enemies with my common-sense post. These types that are ga-ga over convited death row killers usually dont have any sense or thought of the REAL VICTIM’S feelings when they were killed, or even-less the families. I can go on and on, but I need to catch up on my research of scheduled executions. My friends to this day still dont know why I have been throwing barbeques so much. If only they knew what I’ve been celebrating…


  20. rick mobbs says:

    The problem is greater than the execution of this self-admitted killer. It includes the executions of the innocent. The statistics and the dna evidence show that a certain percentage of those on death row are innocent. Would their executions just be the price we (they) pay to make certain the guilty are killed?


  21. Jon Hartley says:

    People who think that life in prison is preferable to death by lethal injection are insane. If I am ever sentenced to death (which I don’t foresee happening for any reason), PLEASE don’t try to help me. I would rather be euthanized than live in prison. If you know anything about life in prison, there is NO WAY you can view it as anything except cruel and unusual punishment. People who oppose the death penalty should be opposing life instead. People who are victimized by murderers, if they are looking for vengeance, should be GLAD to see life sentences imposed, especially if the offender is young.

    There is a strange cult in this country, composed of people who have some morbid fear of death, or some morbid fascination with something… defending the indefensible, enabling the “bad guy” or just being obsessed with the notion that people should live forever.

    The only thing that will result from abolishing the death penalty in this country is that vigilanteeism is going to make a comeback. Because, the crime rate is going to go wild as the years go buy, and the criminals are getting more and more evil, heartless and uncivilized.


  22. Anonymous says:

    Your sentence, “He confessed to raping and killing Felicia Prechtl, was sentenced 17 years ago and has been on Death Row since. ,” is in error. He was not even charged with the murder until five years after raping and shooting this young mother of a five-year old boy. The link you posted also contains major errors of omission about the fingerprints being submitted.

    “And sometimes the person who is put to death is not the person who walked into the prison. People change.
    From accounts I have from people who have known him through these years this seems to have been the case with Karl.”

    If by “change” you are suggesting Karl Chamberlain was rehabilitated, I suggest you spend time reading about the narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders as well as studying not just not just this murder but Chamberlain’s other crimes as well. I have read all of you posts on this matter and have concluded you are woefully ignorant of the criminal mind.


  23. Anonymous says:

    I am Felicia’s only niece, at the time of her murder I was barley 7. She wasnt just my aunt she was my best friend, confidant, mentor. Chamberlain later confesed that he raped my aunt. She was only 30 and a single mom when he took her life. Now thanks to him I am afraid to turn 30 next year, cauise i am in the same postion as her only i have a baby girl who is barely learning how to speak. I dont wish death on anyone but in the bible it does say life for life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s